16 Aug 2019

Heaven’s Rejects - Episode 3

Episode 3 – “The Ends of Des Moines"

Yeah, we got the job to clean up after Team Six's disaster.  Worse, the Chief brought in the demon librarian.  So now we're stuck in Des Moines.  Wonderful.

Something happened.  Even Team Six doesn't go all explosion happy for no reason at all.  I'm taking Demona in under my wing, more to keep her out of Nadia's hair than anything else.  We found ground zero, but nothing strange.

My first mission with the Agency and Nadia and Ian!  I'm so excited!  Though, next time Nadia recommends the coffee somewhere, I'm having tea.  My stomach's still feels like something is chewing its way out.

The next morning, Ian met Demona outside their rooms.  The mountain of a man escorted the young librarian down to the van.  "Breakfast first," he said.  "Always get a good meal when you can."

Demona stared up at the room Ian shared with Nadia.  "What about Nadia?" she asked.  "Shouldn't she have breakfast, too?"

"Nadia exists on bad coffee and bagels.  And she's not pleasant in the morning."

"Just in the morning?"  Demona smirked.  "Tell me the truth, Ian.  Does she hate me?  Because that's the vibe I'm getting off her."

Ian sighed.  "Nadia isn't exactly cuddly, okay?  Think of her as a feral cat.  One that is as likely to scratch and bite you if you try to pick her up, but might approach you if you ignore her."

"I suppose."

"Let's find a diner.  We can sit there for a bit and brainstorm where Team Six might have stayed.  Got your laptop?"

Demona patted her shoulder bag.  "Right here."

"Great!"  Ian unlocked the minivan and opened the passenger door for Demona.

Ian drove through the streets of Des Moines, trying to avoid the morning rush traffic by taking side streets and finding a way to go against the flow.  He found a chain diner near the Interstate that didn't look too busy and pulled into its parking lot.  Getting out, he checked under his coat, making sure he only had his smallsword.

15 Aug 2019

Heaven's Rejects - Commentary 2

Can't keep a librarian away in Heaven's Rejects Chapter 2

Obviously, Demona was going to stick around.  She was the first character conceived of for the story.  The story really sprung up around her; Demona started as a character idea.  While I was working on her, I realized that she worked best with other characters around, which led to Nadia and Ian.  Demona counters Nadia in terms of personality.  Demona is generally cheerful and survives on more than bad coffee.

Nadia used to survive on cigarettes and bad coffee, but had to make a sacrifice.  She gave up smoking.  I may slip in the Airplane joke at some point with her, but not right away.  She's good for being cranky.  Just what you'd want in a mage, right?

Ian is the weapons master, the brawn to Nadia's brains.  His job is to have the right weapon at the right time.  He is good at hiding his weapons in his car.  Really good.  He owns a Mini.  I also added in that he finds Demona attractive.  Might be more informed beauty at this stage, but Demona is part succubus, so some attractiveness is expected.  Ian has a thing for hot librarians.

First Iowa City, then Des Moines.  There's a reason, beyond wanting to send my characters to places that really aren't known for glamour or class.  Heaven's Rejects was a NaNoWriMo project, so word count mattered.  Every city that the story went to needed to have at least two words.  If I could have figured out an arc for Ho Chi Mihn City, I would've used it.  That would've required research and planning.  However, if the series works out, I may still use the city.

Friday, picking up the cold trail, in Heaven's Rejects/ Chapter 3.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Expanse.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Kong Kong vs Godzilla.

9 Aug 2019

Heaven’s Rejects - Episode 2

Episode 2 – “Clean Up”

That had to be the worst mission I'd been on.  That includes the incident in Port au Prince.  We failed to bring back the book, Pro Daemonium Accersito.  An actual demon is summoned by a teenaged girl out for petty revenge.  And the librarian is half-succubus. 

That wasn't too bad, that last mission.  No one got hurt.  Much.  We kept everything under control.  Sorta.  And we know where the book is if we ever need it.  Maybe.  Oh, hey, right, the librarian was helpful and kinda cute.  Though being half-succubus, that comes with the territory.  Um, we didn't destroy the entire library, just the Special Collections Room?

That was an interesting day, to say the least.  Who knew that the book's errata was out there?  I got to see an old friend, though, and the girl responsible is working to pay for damages, whatever insurance doesn't cover.  But the library is going to be closed until the repairs are done.  Now what do I do?

The Chief looked up as Nadia, Ian, and the camera crew entered his office.  "Good.  Everything squared away?"

"Look, Chief," Nadia started as she sat down, "this isn't going to work."

"I saw the footage, Ms Wallach.  Other than everything that went wrong on your part, it looked to be working to me."  The Chief turned his attention to Ian.  "Going to add anything?"

"No, sir," Ian said.

"Good.  For a mission where you didn't retrieve the objective, it worked out for the best at the end.  But I did see an area where you two are lacking."

Nadia crossed her legs, the denim of her jeans swishing.  "I don't think we were missing anything except proper information that the local team should have determined when they first got there.  But, well, hard to admonish them now, seeing that they're scattered around Des Moines."

"That's why I'm adding an extra body on your team, someone who can get that information."  The Chief pressed the intercom button on his landline.  "You can send her in."  Behind the Chief, a door slid open.  Nadia and Ian recognized who walked through.

"Chief, tell me your joking."  Nadia stared at the newcomer.  "Right?  Right?"

Ian smiled.  "I didn't think we'd see you so soon."

Demona waved.  "Hi."

8 Aug 2019

Heaven's Rejects - Commentary 1

A new serial started with Heaven's Rejects Chapter 1!  Three new characters with their own setting to explore and destroy!

I'm trying something new with this serial.  The core idea was to mash urban fantasy and reality TV together.  By reality TV, I'm aiming for something like COPS with the asides of other reality competitions tossed in.  The Office meets Ghostbusters, though not quite that.  For the asides, I wanted to add images of who was speaking, taking advantage of the medium.  Since my drawing skills are at the level of malformed stick figures, I had to go a different route.  Fortunately, many computer games allow for character customization.  The Sims series is built on that idea, along with creating a soap opera over multiple families and killing Sims in unique ways.  Meet Ian, Nadia, and Demona.


The organization Nadia and Ian work for doesn't have great funding.  It's a Non-Governmental Organization getting funds from organizations that don't want their names revealed and don't really have that much spare money to pass along.  So, Ian prefers his car, a Mini, and I'm playing with the idea that he has the original version instead of the remake.  He is able to hide a zeihander, a German two-handed sword that is up to 213 cm (84 inches) long in a car maybe twice that length.  Should be easier to hide the sword in a minivan, but that's Ian for you.

The idea is inspired by Demon Hunters from Dead Gentlemen Productuons, though I'm creating everything from scratch.  The organization is more earthly than the Brotherhood of the Celestial Torch, and the hierarchy is more loose.  Nadia and Ian report to "The Chief", but he's not the head nor is he near being the head of the the organization.  Ian's explanation gives a view at the ground level, what he and Nadia do.  Higher up is the tracking and planning, deciding where to deploy the agents and specialists.

Obviously, Nadia is Jewish.  Speaking (badly translated) Yiddish, the Star of David, the whole /schlemiel/.  I'm using Mel Brooks movies as a guide to Yiddish, so things might not come out the best.  The choice came after some thoughts about the use of faith against hte supernatural.  Since most of the writers creating supernatural canon, like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker were of some flavour of Christianity, the focus of True Faith tended to be a crucifix.  But if it's faith that drives back the supernatural, then why not other holy symbols?

The twist on the summoning came about because of genre.  Heaven's Rejects isn't meant to be serious.  Some ideas could be redone seriously elsewhere, but urban fantasy could use more comedy.  A demon named Tad becoming cheerful on seeing an old friend.  Demona's battle cry of "Shush!"  More will come.

Friday, Nadia and Ian get a new teammate and a new mission, in Heaven's Rejects Chapter 2.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Teen Wolf.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, The Expanse.

2 Aug 2019

Heaven’s Rejects

Episode 1 – “Yes, You Have To.”

“Are you out of your mind, Chief?”  Nadia pulled her arm away from Ian’s attempts to get her to sit back down.  “What part of ‘secret organization’ have you forgotten?”

The Chief stared across his desk at Nadia.  The young woman didn’t back down, but also she didn’t continue forward.  “Times are changing, Ms Wallach.”

Ian leaned away from his partner.  “After what happened to Team Six, it’s kinda hard to hide again.”

“Edward was a disaster waiting to happen and you know it, Chief.”  Nadia sat back down.  She glared at the camera crew lurking in the corner.  “Just like these guys.  Bringing civilians along is a bad idea.”

“You’re not in the army, Ms Wallach,” the Chief said.  “You’re also a ‘civilian’.  Same with Mr. Markowitz.”

1 Aug 2019

NaNo 2019 Prep - The Contenders

November is coming.  Okay, it's still three months away, but with The Elf's Prisoner just recently completed and all its lessons on not building a world on the fly, I better brainstorm a bit.  I do have a few ideas, though.

1) Magical Lush Claire
I won't take all the credit or all the blame for this one.  A friend made an off-hand remark on Twitter and that triggered ideas.  I've started working on the setting and the characters, and I have a good idea on how things start.  Claire is a geology student at a local university, in part to make world building much easier, and is not having an easy life when things start.  I also have the rest of her magical girls team.  The idea here is that Claire, being a young adult, doesn't have a strong connection to the magic like a younger girl would.  To access the magic, she needs to lower her inhibitions, something alcohol does well for people.  And if she gets too drunk, she might accidentally change anyway.  I've got the opening worked out and an idea of how the other magical girls will treat her.

2) Subject 13 Volume 2
The plan here is to skip the massive battle with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and just give a quick recap of it through a news program, just to get Nasty home finally.  Nasty will be stepping down as Peregrine, as hinted in Crossover, and get her into the difficulties of having a semi-public ID, especially at school.  The usual problems, like dealing with Tia and trying to get a handle on her feelings for Eric, though those can't really outpace what happened in /Crossover/.  There will be some surprises for Nasty, though.

3) Streetwise Valkyries
I've already written the first four chapters of this, a team of teenaged superheroines who are dealing with their own lives, their relationships with each other, and the baggage of superpowers.  I have a few ideas to run them through, too.  The five, Lady Windchime, Miss Mana, Unruly, Ocelot, and the Steel Poppy, have been detailed in notes, including classes where I can pull them out of when needed.  This may hit topics that need to be hit, like school shootings.  There may be a crossover with Subject 13, too, though there's already a character who has appeared there.

4) Total Security Concepts
Another superhero series, this time set in Ottawa.  Total Security Concepts looks at the task of protecting people from superpowered threats.  Colleen, the owner of TSC, has designed a set of power armour.  Unlike most heroes who do that (I'm looking at you, Tony Stark), Colleen is mass producing them, at least for her employees.  She also employs people with superpowers; fight fire with fire.  TSC will also fall into the S13 setting, to make things easier and to give that setting a bigger feel.  If I go with S13 Volume 2, the team will get a shout out.  The story will start after the battle I'm planning on skipping in /S13/.

The usual contenders from previous years may pop up, too, most likely the time travelling daikaiju hunters.  That story needs a lot more research on historical eras and how a giant monster stomping around can change the course of history.

Three months to prep.  That should be enough time.

26 Jul 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Future Plans

Thirty-seven full chapters and a third of another later, The Elf's Prisoner is not complete.  The plot is a complex web of conspiracies that Kazi, Nyssa, Jyslyn, Wren, and Leo and cutting with a sharp sword.  Different cultures have appeared.  What's next?

That's the big question, even for me.  I have ideas of what I want, and I know that there needs to be a showdown against the Big Bad.  It's the path to get there that's in question.  The general direction is south, thanks to Sessarine.  South seems like a good spot to have backstabbing snake people.  It's warm, it's humid, there's rocks.  Everything a snake might like.

Along the way, the group would meet other Niceans and the crystal elves.  I don't want a travelogue, but the world would get explored.  The Niceans are more laid back than the ambassador to the Realm Under the Mountain is.  The crystal elves, well, they're another matter.  Like the elves of Wildwood and the Sundered Chasm, the crystal elves are a matriarchy.  They're also who the dark elves were sundered from and they have long memories.  Jyslyn would become their prisoner until Kazi and Wren sorted things out.  Jyslyn has some of her own tricks up her sleeves, too.  The crystal elves are very much into magic.  Jyslyn goes for practical means as needed, so getting out of manacles while in a magic dampening field is a matter of sleight of hand.

Speaking of ambassadors, it occurred to me that the ambassadors from both the Nicean Islands and the Seven Dominions are officious.  While the Nicean ambassador had other matters on his mind, the respective governments may have sent such people to deal with the dwarves because the dwarves appreciate such an approach.  That may have been the insight I was missing when I started Chapter 38.  Nyssa hinted at it, though.

Once done in the Realm, the heroes will take a canal boat to the coast.  I have a working canal locally, the Rideau Canal, that will help me with ambiance and actual working of shipping along a waterway.  It can pay to take note of what's around.  Anything can be tossed into a story.  Once down the canal, off to the Nicean Islands to catch a ship further south.  That may be the perfect spot to end the first book.  Not that I intended The Elf's Prisoner to have multiple books.  It kinda got away from me.

Long term, I need to get Kazi and Jyslyn to become a couple.  A possible sequel set decades later would have their children dealing with Valenza and her machinations.  Valenza has a long memory and the capability to nurse a grudge until the time is right for vengeance.  How best to do that than to tempt one of Jyslyn's kids back into the fold?  Jyslyn would be older and crankier by this time and is feeling her years.  Kazi, not so much.  The difference between dark elves and surface elves.

The biggest lesson learned from The Elf's Prisoner is to have the world built before starting to write.  So much effort was spent laying down the tracks in front of the characters that could've been used figuring out plot and characters.  However, I also learned that I can create a world on the fly while letting the characters interact to hide the frantic paddling.  It's a good skill, one that shouldn't be overworked.

This ends The Elf's Prisoner for now.  Unlike the other stories that were unfinished, there's too much right now to try writing chapter by chapter for the next few weeks.  I have other stories in the works right now and I do have a serial lined up for the next ten weeks.  I'll also post the potentials for NaNo 2019.  Thanks for sticking around for The Elf's Prisoner.